By Jeyhun Aliyev and Merve Berker
ANKARA (AA) – Combat operations continued Thursday along the front line a month after border clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to local authorities.
Over the past day and night, Armenian forces fired on the positions of units of the Azerbaijani army and civilian settlements with weapons including artillery and missiles, said Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry.
While the operations continued mainly in the Khojavend, Fuzuli and Gubadli directions of the front, attempts by the Armenian Armed Forces to attack were "resolutely prevented," said the statement, adding there were casualties among the Armenian troops due to Azerbaijan's retaliatory measures.
Lots of Armenian military personnel, two T-72 tanks, two BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket systems, 14 different types of howitzers, several strongholds and six vehicles were destroyed by Azerbaijani forces in different directions of the front during the past day and at night, the ministry said, adding Azerbaijani troops are currently monitoring the operational situation.
Armenian forces meanwhile subjected the territory of the Goranboy and Tartar regions of Azerbaijan to artillery fire in the morning hours, it said.
Separately, the ministry also shared video footage of the villages of Giyasli and Sariyatag in the Gubadli region which were recently liberated from Armenian occupation.
Wednesday's deadly missile attack by Armenian forces on Azerbaijani civilian settlements in the city center of the Barda region left at least 21 people dead, including five women, and wounded 70 people, including eight children and 15 women.
The two cluster Smerch missiles, which are prohibited by international law, were fired around 1 p.m. local time [0900GMT] targeting the densely populated area with commercial establishments in Barda, Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.
Since clashes broke out on Sept. 27, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements since Oct. 10.
To date, at least 90 civilians have lost their lives, including 11 children and infants, and 392 people — including at least 36 children — have been injured in attacks by Armenian forces while 2,406 homes and 92 multi-apartment residential buildings have been destroyed and 423 civilian facilities have been damaged, said Azerbaijan's Chief Prosecutor's Office.
– Nearly three-decade occupation
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.
Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly as well as international organizations demand the "immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from occupied Azerbaijani territory.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also refers to the territory as being under the occupation of Armenian forces.
About 20% of Azerbaijan's territory — including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions — has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.
World powers including Russia, France and the US have called for a sustainable cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia's occupying forces.